My Crypto Journey

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My career is in Data Engineering, I hold a Bachelors of Science in Economics, and until recently I have been a major skeptic of cryptocurrency. I wasn’t an early adopter because I felt there were economic weaknesses that made the investment too risky.

But after the crash, I came across an interesting perspective that changed my skepticism to interest. I wanted to share my change of mind so enthusiasts and skeptics could better understand their counterpart’s point of view.

First Impressions

I first came across Bitcoin circa 2013 when I was scrolling through news articles discussing its relationship to the Silk Road (website). I again came across it in 2015 when news outlets were claiming that Chinese elites had used Bitcoin to smuggle money out of the country before the Chinese Central Bank infamously devalued the yuan against the US dollar in one day.

USD / CNY Exchange Rate. Screenshot taken from Quandl.com

During my perusing, two issues jumped out at me that kept me skeptical for a long time.

Limited Money Supply

A fair complaint about fiat currency is the government’s ability to just simply print more cash. This is a major cause of inflation and ultimately hurts the little guy’s purchasing power. Bitcoin wanted to head in the other direction: a pre-determined money supply that is released in decreasing amounts.

This is not a new system, and it does work. At one point our currency was gold-backed. There’s only so much gold on planet Earth. In order to get to it, you need to mine for it. The more gold that is mined, the harder it is to find more.

However, developing software is quite different than mining precious metals. While inside the Bitcoin economy the supply of money is finite, the supply of cryptocurrencies in general is theoretically infinite. Someone can introduce a new supply of money by:

  1. Introducing a new currency (Ethereum, Neo, Ripple, Stellar)
  2. Hard forks that split a currency:
  • June 2016: the Ethereum DAO hack and subsequent hard fork resulted in two currencies Ethereum & Ethereum Classic
  • July 2017: The hard fork that increased the size of a Bitcoin block to 8mb resulted in Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin
  • October 2017: The hard fork to prevent ASIC mining operations resulted in a new currency Bitcoin Gold

I do not think the cryptocurrencies’ economies are insulated from each other — inflation could happen.

Monetary Policy

Another thing that concerned me is the very Laissez-faire approach to economics or in other words lack of monetary policy. I think some monetary policy is necessary to counteract a perfect storm of economic events. A perfect example is the recession following the dot com bubble. This recession followed a series of events:

  • Wild speculation on tech stocks by individual and institutional investors
  • Tech companies’ out of control burn rate (how fast they spent money)
  • A recession in Japan
  • Various scandals and lawsuits
  • The Federal Reserve raised interest rates
  • Sept 11th

In response to the crash, the Federal Reserve (Central US Bank) stepped in and lowered the interest rate. To put it simply, this makes money cheaper to borrow and is a way to get money flowing again.

Some of these events were under the US government’s control, some of them were quite the opposite. The advantage of a central authority is that someone can intervene when a financial meltdown occurs and prevent the situation getting worse for everyone. My perspective was and still is, that any economy needs to have safeguards built in.

I think it would be amazing to see monetary policy in an automated system. That way policy would not be set behind closed doors anymore. But it seems the major cryptocurrencies have not taken this step yet. And I think that is a mistake. Case in point…

The Crypto Crash

Screenshot from my Robinhood app

Late 2017 was shocking; the cryptocurrency crash happened almost as suddenly as the rise. In February 2018, it finally bottomed out and that is where I saw something interesting. Just interesting enough to make me climb down from my high horse and take a closer look: Bitcoin was up significantly year-over-year. And that’s what got my attention.

Someone, somewhere out there finds enough value in this to ride out the crash. So I went in search of their perspective. What did they see that I didn’t?

How I was Won Over

A friend gave me a book called “Bitcoin and the Future of Money” by Jose Pagliery as a gift. Who doesn’t love the story about the mysterious origins of Bitcoin and the technology behind Blockchain?

The chapter that won me over was Chapter 6: The Case for Bitcoin. The majority of this chapter talked about the life experiences of being “unbanked” and “underbanked”.

  • “unbanked”: being without a bank account
  • “underbanked”: having a bank account but better served by alternative financial services like check cashing and payday loans stores which are notoriously expensive.

Pagliery’s figures on how many people are un/underbanked were staggering. At the time the book was published in 2014, more than 25% of American households and 30% of citizens in large American cities were in this situation. For many of us, transactions such as depositing a check, getting cash, or receiving a loan are seamless and relatively low cost. However they become expensive at lower incomes and can create a vicious cycle.

  • Depositing a Check: Banks often charge fees if an account is below a minimum balance. So an account is not practical for those who cannot maintain this amount. When people in this situation receive a paycheck, their best option is to go to a check cashing service which also charges sizable fees.
  • Getting Cash: Debit cards and vendors often won’t process small transaction amounts so having cash is still a necessity in order to stick to a low income budget. If you receive a government assistance card and you need to get cash, the ATM will slap you with fees.
  • Receiving a Loan: Say you miss work due to illness, a payday loan is the only service that will lend the small amount you need but with hefty interest rates and other fees.

Perhaps some of this could be mitigated by better financial planning and education. But ultimately people in this situation are paying large percentages of their income to use their own money. It is undeniable that our financial system is not set up to effectively process small transactions and service those with low income.

Thank you to Omer Goldberg for the use of his photo displaying M-PESA signs at a local pharmacy in Kenya

The chapter went on to describe the breakthrough of M-PESA in Kenya which solves exactly this problem. M-PESA is a system that belongs to Kenya’s largest mobile network company which allows users to deposit money into a mobile account and then text money to each other. According to this chapter, 43% of Kenya’s GDP passed through M-PESA. This system was so successful because the number of Kenyans who have a phone far surpasses the amount who have a formal bank account.

I started to look around for the signs of underbanking at home. I live in Israel. Here the banks often require a 25% (or more) down payment on a home minimum. By comparison, in the US it is 3%. This 25% minimum down payment in conjunction with high real estate prices puts homeownership out of reach for many people and prevents the accumulation of wealth because paying rent is just a black hole. This is only part of the story with the banks and real estate here. I can only imagine what banking services look like for other places in the Middle East.

This chapter won me over because I was able to imagine the impact of an easy-to-join system that provides seamless and inexpensive financial services for everyone. Can you imagine what our worldwide economy would look like if that were so?

Looking Forward

I think an important step to achieve this is an automatic monetary policy mechanism to stabilize the exchange rate and other economic indicators. This would allow cryptocurrencies to take on more of a currency role instead of a speculative investment.

I am not alone in thinking this. A friend introduced me to The Dai Stablecoin System which has implemented an automated monetary policy system that stabilizes the Dai Stablecoin against the US Dollar. Pegging a coin to the US Dollar is a great way to start off the transition to a Blockchain system. But my hope is one day for these currencies to be stable and floating (allowing supply and demand to set the exchange rate) in their own right.

A lot of brainstorming, debate, and experimentation needs to be done to get us to that point. I look forward to see what new crypto-creations come out in the future and where the discussion takes us.

Thanks for reading! If you have any resources you think are interesting related to cryptocurrencies, please feel free to comment or reach out.

Connect with me on Instagram @ljglass

Connect with me on LinkedIn


My Crypto Journey was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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We wanted an A.I. revolution, instead we got dinner reservations

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Text modified from the original graphic by the Behavior Signals Team

One of the coolest machine learning stories in recent memory involved the Google Duplex, a voice A.I. capable of calling a restaurant and making your dinner reservation while pretending to be human:

Simulating a personal assistant is cool, but it would be cooler to simulate a highly trained physician and potentially save lives. And given the massive hype surrounding artificial intelligence, I think it is fair to be ambitious.

“We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.”

— Peter Thiel

It was with this in mind that I took a break from my standard routine of “absolutely never leaving the hospital” to play around with a new coding project, focused on applications of natural language processing to healthcare using automated phone calls. Also, since I get approximately 40 calls per day from robotic telemarketers, I wanted to harness this power for good and build something cool. I implemented the project using Google Dialogflow, which was updated recently to include a Phone Gateway integration that makes it easy to create conversational telephone agents (à la the awesome Google Duplex).

For my first project, I made this simple but useful surgical concierge:

A summary, in case you hate fun videos: a patient with an upcoming surgery receives a call from a human-like surgery concierge. The concierge asks a series of pre-operative questions, learning about the patient’s allergies, medical history, and ability to get a ride home after surgery. Once this information is collected, the patient can freely ask questions to learn more about their upcoming procedure.

I’ll illustrate the value of this application with a story. Mr. Jones is a 75 year old male with liver cancer, and he desperately needs microwave ablation, a procedure to cure his cancer by burning it to a crisp with microwave energy. He was, however, never told to fast before the procedure and spent the morning eating breakfast and drinking coffee. This means he can’t safely get anesthesia (you need an empty stomach) and his procedure is cancelled. His treatment is thus delayed — will his cancer spread?— and the hospital loses money as an operative slot goes unfilled. Although the surgery concierge seems simple, preventing these minor communication issues allows us to avoid catastrophe.

Using natural language processing to automate phone calls offers significant value in healthcare. A few key points:

  • Many of our elderly patients struggle with new technology, but nearly everyone gets the telephone. A similar tool could be created as a text-based chatbot, but could you grandmother use that chatbot? Maybe or maybe not, but it is very likely that she could take a phone call.
  • Modern text-to-voice technology has surpassed a certain threshold of usability to become pretty damn good. Although imperfect, interacting with the telephone agent feels natural and similar to human-to-human communication. If you doubt this point, just ask all of the restauranteurs offering tables to robots from Google. There is elegance and power in this natural conversational interface.
  • The optimal approach to many clinical problems will integrate participation from both humans and virtual agents. Although humans do a decent job of preparing patients for surgery, they sometimes neglect to mention a certain point (e.g. eating), forget to call a particular patient, or get confused and provide erroneous information. Bots offer a powerful back-up that can be carefully controlled by experts with a clear understanding of the latest clinical guidelines. This second layer of patient interaction has the potential to decrease communication error and prevent major problems, from cancelled surgery to death.

Pondering this new platform makes my mind race with promising medical use cases, from diabetes coaching to finding last minute MRI availability to reminding elderly people to take their medications. Man, I really should get back to work…

P.S. Please enjoy this bonus photo of my dog being glorious and majestic and enjoying our new home, San Francisco:

Captain posing with Karl the Fog

If you have an idea for a project or want a physician’s perspective on anything in tech, feel free to reach out on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Also, please hit the “clap” button and share if you enjoyed the article…it helps a lot! Thanks for reading. — Kevin


We wanted an A.I. revolution, instead we got dinner reservations was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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When Healthy Policy Neglects Economic Principles, Patients Suffer

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The healthcare sector of the U.S. economy is extraordinarily dynamic and complex, providing constant challenges for policymakers and regulators working to improve healthcare markets. However, recent research and policies suggest the greatest challenges for policymakers might be their misunderstanding of economic fundamentals.

Earlier this year, the Annals of Internal Medicine journal published a paper which found the prices increased for nearly 100 drugs while they were in a shortage between 2015 and 2016. The paper also notes these “price hikes” (price increases) were less severe in markets with comparatively more competitors (defined as more than three drug providers).

Although the authors consider these findings “mysterious,” they confidently offered policy recommendations to correct “the imbalance between supply and demand.” As they stated in their conclusion, “If manufacturers are observed using shortages to increase prices, public payers could set payment caps for drugs under storage and limit price increases.”

The situation described above, and the folly of its policy prescription, are no mysteries for anyone who understands basic economics.

A shortage occurs when there are too few goods available to satisfy too many consumers. Shortages dissipate when prices increase, motivating more production and less consumption. Competition among producers is an indispensable component of this process, working to provide more (and often better) goods to consumers.

Economic principles also teach us that “payment caps,” more commonly called price controls, do not resolve shortages. Instead, by keeping prices from rising, price controls remove the incentive for competing producers to supply more goods and for consumers to buy less.

For credible scholars to display such a blatant misunderstanding of economic principles is dumbfounding. And for such mistakes to be published in a peer-reviewed journal deemed “the most cited general internal medicine journal and one of the most influential journals in the world” is especially troublesome.

Unfortunately, misunderstandings of elementary economics also pervade contemporary health policymaking. EpiPens, which provide potentially life-saving treatment for patients with severe allergies, have been in a severe shortage in the United States since April. When children returned to school recently, parents struggled to send them back with much-needed emergency medicine, and pharmacies faced long backorders while trying to provide them.

In response, the Food and Drug Administration issued a statement asking pharmacies to extend expiry dates for EpiPens by four months. While this might lengthen periods between prescription refills, it will not lead to more EpiPens and does not address the primary cause of the shortage.

That cause is a lack of competition stemming from overregulation.

From 2011 to 2016, EpiPen’s manufacturer received three patents, granting it extended monopolist status and preventing competition from entering the market. Over roughly the same period, EpiPen prices increased about 500 percent. However, without competition stepping in to increase production, shortages persist.

Thankfully, around the same time, the FDA also approved a generic version of EpiPen. Introducing a generic competitor will increase EpiPen’s availability and reduce the shortage. However, the lack of competition and the current shortage are due to the FDA’s previous regulations. Most importantly, the consequences of these regulations are entirely predictable with only a minimal understanding of economics.

Determining effective health policy is incredibly difficult, and elementary mistakes cause widespread damage. However, understanding the origins of shortages, the role of competition in the market, and how prices guide resources to socially desirable uses to allocate resources are the backbone of doing any policy work. Recent events indicate an urgent need for researchers and policymakers to relearn the basics.

***

Raymond March is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and Assistant Professor of Agribusiness and Applied Economics at North Dakota State University.

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The Value of a Trading Tribe

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“It is better to move to action through inspiration rather than desperation” – Dr. Brett Steenbarger

Today’s article stems from a simple question which stems from my experience in helping traders. Most people I help have been trying to find a solid trading system for some amount of time (years in many cases) and start wondering whether trading the markets is even possible.

I get these people to the stage where they can make a logical assessment about whether trading suits them, or not. Whether they actually like it, or not. Whether it gives them purpose (and they feel drawn to it) or whether they need to push themselves towards the goal. The result is that  some people exceed their own expectations, whilst others will take a decent trade now & again but never really make headway. There are many psychological issues that come into play, which explain the performance gap.

Fortunately there is one tool, which is one of the most effective but also one of the most overlooked, that can help struggling traders get a grips on things: a network of like-minded people – a Trading Tribe as Ed Seykota named it.

The Value of a Trading Tribe

The value of a trading tribe is directly proportional to the maturity of the people in it. Here are typical traits that mature participants tend to demonstrate in our own Tribe:

  • openness: not having any issues whatsoever talking about difficulties, sticking points, frustrations or any other kind of emotional withdrawal;
  • non-judgemental: commenting in a way that stimulates reflection and thought, as opposed to criticism;
  • empathic: when someone makes a mistake, gets stopped out, or experiences anything negative, mature individuals act like a safety net because we all go through similar experiences sooner or later.

Together, these attributes promote growth. Only in a circle of “safe people” can a frustrated trader really open up, share his feeling and frustrations, and thus start the healing process.

At it’s core, a trading tribe should be a meeting place for traders to ask questions, express feelings and frustrations, discuss the markets and stimulate ideas and growth. Trading is a very lonely activity and when we face issues, it’s easier to have a group of like-minded people at your side to turn to and bounce ideas off, instead of facing the challenges alone.

In my experience, traders that hit a road block or some setback put a lot of pressure on themselves. They start to feel incompetent (and carry this feeling with them to other places during the day), they start to experience self-doubt (which further limits their mental capacity to overcome the obstacle), and they start filling up with negative emotions that take them further away from the solution.

Here’s a well known example: the Candle Problem.

The problem is this: find the quickest way to fix and light a candle on a wall in a way so the candle wax won’t drip onto the table below. It’s a simple problem but it takes people a few minutes, on average, to get to the solution.

In the seminal study in 1962, Glucksberg offered cash prizes for completing the task quickly. Subjects who were offered no prize, termed low-drive, were told “We are doing pilot work on various problems in order to decide which will be the best ones to use in an experiment we plan to do later. We would like to obtain norms on the time needed to solve.” The remaining subjects, termed high-drive, were told “Depending on how quickly you solve the problem you can win $5.00 or $20.00. The top 25% of the subjects in your group will win $5.00 (around $40 nowadays) each; the best will receive $20.00 (around $160 nowadays). Time to solve will be the criterion used.”

Surpize surprize, the high-drive subjects performed worse than low-drive subjects. The process of turning the task into a competition for limited resources can create mild levels of stress in the subject, which can lead to a sympathetic nervous system response known as fight-or-flight. This stress response effectively shuts down the creative thinking and problem solving areas of the brain in the prefrontal cortex.

This experiment has been repeated many times throughout the years and the results remain intact. Whenever we face a problem that requires creativity or thought, as opposed to any physical requirement like speed, strength or stamina, pressure to perform actually limits our resources.

Lets bring it all back to trading: when struggling traders need help, they seldom admit it because (sadly) talking about failure or problems seems to be a taboo in our modern society, which is instead dominated by the need to appear successful, in shape, etc. as is evident from the pictures on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. For example, it’s basically impossible to find a losing trader on Twitter.

This is another form of pressure, that gets added to the original issue of being unsuccessful in the markets. Traders in this situation need a safe place to go, where they can share their fustrations with other traders, receive grace and also receive useful inputs or useful brainstorming sessions. Without this kind of environment, the risk is for the trader to “close up” even more, never acknowledge his emotions, hence generating a whole new negative self-image which he will carry around with him in his day-to-day life.

In other terms: a proper trading tribe is a support group that shares ideas, helps struggling traders open up and lighten their burden in an open and non-judgemental atmosphere. This is the only kind of environment that promotes personal growth and all market wizards agree that mastering the markets has much to do with self-mastery.

Proper Content in a Proper Context

Now that we know what kind of environment (or context) a trading tribe should provide, let’s explore the kind of market-inherent content that should be present, and that inspires good trading habits.

  • Proper Trade Calls: the only kind of trade call that has educational value is one that is planned in advance (“I’m looking to trade XYZ because of ABC, and will look for pullbacks around QQQ level), executed in real time (“I’m entering now as the pre-idenitified situation has manifested itself), managed  (adding/scaling-out/closing the position) in real time with charts to help focus attention.
  • Discussion about current market drivers and influences: trade calls as stated above naturally stimulate discussion about the why’s and the how’s. More than the technical aspects of the trade, a better discussion surrounds the current influences that inspired the trade in the first place. After all, there are tons of resources available online regarding technical analysis…but there are very few (if any) resources that help select or identify how to go about selecting trades in the first place!
  • Working together to generate ideas and learn from one another.

How NOT to Use a Trading Tribe

Now let’s cover the obvious: how NOT to use a trading tribe.

  • Waiting for knowledge and wisdom to be imparted from above. Most traders sadly just sit on the sidelines and watch one or two main contributors do all the heavy lifting and expect to learn something by doing so. This is just folly. Wisdom can only be learned by getting your hands dirty by jumping into the pit and exchanging beliefs, comments and ideas. No lessons can be learned without first making mistakes; similarly, no wisdom can be learned without asking questions.
  • Copying trades. This is another big issue. Colm O’Shea in The Market Wizards put it best: “If I try to teach you what I do, you will fail because you are not me. If you hang around me, you will observe what I do, and you may pick up some good habits. But there are a lot of things you will want to do differently. A good friend of mine, who sat next to me for several years, is now managing lots of money at another hedge fund and doing very well. But he is not the same as me. What he learned was not to become me. He became something else. He became him.’”
  • Talking about trades you took in the past and the money you made. I’ve never met a good trader who talks this way. There is nothing to learn from this kind of discussion, and what’s worse is that talking about money always stirs up strong emotions in those who are struggling. So it is to be avoided at all costs.

Over to You

Judgement is the enemy of growth. Whether in the form of criticism or comparisons, judgement creates walls instead of promoting cooperation. Sadly, most trader gatherings I’ve seen are all about showing off, talking about money made, and dropping hints about possible trades to take or being taken.

We try to be different, and take inspiration from the man who created the term Trading Tribe: Ed Seykota. A network of traders, each giving their own contributions, each bringing their own speciality to the table, is like an inspiration factory. Traders that struggle need a different input than the ones they have been using. They need fresh inspiration and a safe environment.

This is what we try to offer…a place where traders come to learn, share ideas and grow together.  If you’re serious about succeeding as a trader, or if you’re having difficulty and need fresh input or perspective, pull up a chair and make yourself at home in the the FXRenew Trading Tribe.

About the Author

Justin is a Forex trader and Coach. He is co-owner of www.fxrenew.com, a provider of Forex signals from ex-bank and hedge fund traders (get a free trial), or get FREE access to the Advanced Forex Course for Smart Traders. If you like his writing you can subscribe to the newsletter for free.

The post The Value of a Trading Tribe appeared first on FX Renew.

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Video: Forex Trading Opportunities for the Week Ahead 15 October 18

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Here is the video version of our Forex trading opportunities for the week ahead.

Please go here for the written summary: Forex Trading Opportunities for the week ahead

About the Author

Sam Eder is a currency trader and author of the Definitive Guide to Developing a Winning Forex Trading System and the Advanced Forex Course for Smart Traders (get free access). He is the owner of  www.fxrenew.com a provider of Forex signals from ex-bank and hedge fund traders (get a free trial). If you like Sam’s writing you can subscribe to his newsletter.

The post Video: Forex Trading Opportunities for the Week Ahead 15 October 18 appeared first on FX Renew.

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Effective Advertising Solutions That Start-ups Can Afford

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Creative advertising is one of the key requirements to boost brand recognition, but for start-up owners, managing operational and promotional costs can be quite challenging. More often than not, start-up companies have a limited budget, which goes into talent recruitment and product development and at the end of the month, executives realise that there’s not much left for advertising.

There are so many creative and disruptive start-ups out there that are actually making the world a better place and that deserve to make their presence known through a billboard in Times Square or through a million-dollar advertising campaign. However, when funds are limited, you have to manage somehow and find room for advertising in your plans. Without advertising, potential clients cannot find you and it will significantly more difficult for you to make a breakthrough on the market.

Fortunately, effective advertising is no longer expensive and, if you own a start-up, you can access a vast pool of affordable advertising solutions that help you achieve online brand recognition:

News features in local magazines.

With most printed newspapers transitioning to the Web and bringing with them masses of loyal readers, online news features are an advertising opportunity that you simply can’t ignore, especially given its relatively low price. Local publications are a perfect example, because you can target your advertising efforts towards a smaller local niche and become a household name. Local news sites are generally quite open with promotional content, as long as it’s relevant to the area and, whether you choose to promote yourself via a press release, editorial or advice column, the results will not be late to appear. News features are also effective because they link back to your website and this can boost your SEO.

Facebook advertising.

Social media advertising is one of the biggest things to have happened to marketing in the past decade and Facebook is by far the strongest social platform. These days, a whopping 80% of the Internet is made of active Facebook users – that’s 1.8 billion of monthly active users. For many people, Facebook is the Internet and as a brand, you simply can’t neglect this huge opportunity to connect with leads. Facebook advertising is not only affordable, but also incredibly targeted, allowing you to promote your products and services exactly to those categories of users you are interested in. Compared to TV advertising, where one commercial can be relevant just to a small handful of viewers, Facebook advertising is accurate and relevant. According to a professional Facebook marketing agency in London, Facebook advertising is also incredibly fast and you will reach out to thousands of users the same day you start your campaign. And all of this with a budget that starts as low as £5. Facebook ads convert, and they convert fast. Add the fact that they can also boost your website traffic and therefore improve your SEO and you have the perfect online advertising solution for your start-up.

Influencer marketing.

Like them or not, influencers have started to change the way people are introduced to brands. Because they are real, relatable people, influencers are like a vote of confidence for your brand. Because spam websites are so common on the Web, many people are quite sceptical towards trying a new product, fearing that it’s too good to be true. However, if an influencer that people know and love recommends that new product, people start to trust you. Partnering with an influencer is a great way to break the ice and stay in the spotlight and, according to a Tomoson study, it will turn into a $10 billion-dollar industry in the next five years. Does that mean it will become more exclusive? Not necessarily. While it goes without saying that establishing a partnership with an influencer like Chiara Ferragni or Tai Lopez is a bit out of reach for small businesses, a collaboration with a smaller local personality is much more feasible.

YouTube Ads.

Video is one of the most consumed forms of content on the Web. Recent statistics show that almost half of Internet users watch at least 30 minutes of videos every week, especially on their mobiles, and a staggering 87% of online marketers already use video content as a promotional strategy. Ads incorporated in YouTube videos have a high ROI because, just like Facebook ads, they are targeted and thus relevant for the audience watching them. Why choose video content over text? Because people who watch a video ad are more likely to remember your brand and because video content boost viewer engagement!

Whether you choose Facebook ads, YouTube ads or another form of online advertising, saving money is not the only benefit to be earned. Another major advantage they have in common is the fact that they are measurable. After you run a campaign, you can monitor and analyse the results: learn who watched or click on your ad and whether or not that led to a purchase. The agency you work with can send you a detailed report highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of your campaign and this way you will be able to adapt your budget or better target your ads for maximum results.

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Want To Thrive In Today’s High-Speed, Hypercompetitive Business World? Teach Your Managers To Iterate

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by Ed Muzio, author of “Iterate: Run a Fast, Flexible, Focused Management Team“

When boiled down to its essence, management is a system of managers, operating in concert, constantly adjusting resources based on new information coming in to keep the business on target. It involves coordinating complex efforts, enabling group work and constantly asking the question, “What’s the next most intelligent step from here?”

In other words, management is the feedback system of the organization. And managers who continually ask themselves and their teams what that next logical step to be taken is – and then take it, learn from it and repeat the process – Iterating.

Iteration is the way effective systems solve problems whose solutions are too complex to be predefined. Just look for the highest‐performing entrants in any given market space. Chances are they’re Iterating.

An organization that Iterates moves the right information up and down the hierarchy, in regular and useful ways, in support of good decisions. It doesn’t get stuck in an overly rigid plan, but instead stays flexible as it pursues clearly defined outcomes.

If you want to run a fast, flexible, focused management team, use these five key practices:

1. Output and Status Broadcasting.

Managers must be crystal clear with themselves and each other about what they’re doing. They do this verbally via Verbalized Summary Outputs (the VSO), and they do it graphically with Pragmatic Dashboards. The VSO is a list of statements summarizing the output the manager will deliver to the organization into measurable, countable outputs – three to seven items that, together, account for roughly 80 percent of his or her results. The list should take 60–90 seconds to say out loud in a meeting. VSOs confirm alignment and provide a line of sight into how each manager’s (and thus each team’s) work impacts the bigger picture.

A Pragmatic Dashboard turns the verbal information of the VSO into graphic information, one graph per VSO item to avoid unnecessary data. The graphs are summaries of measurable output that include historical data on past performance, along with two futures: the planned future alongside what’s now expected. With these in hand, aimless monologues transform into specific discussion about the future because everyone can see what’s not going to go as expected.

2. Work PreView Meetings.

In an Iterative organization, Work PreView Meetings are the regular meetings between a manager and his or her direct reports. They have a consistent rhythm that involves providing information, making decisions and ensuring plans are carried out with regularity. Meeting leaders strive to maintain a forward-looking orientation so that discussions of status are minimized and the focus is on “What’s going to happen in the future, and what should we do about it right now?”

The ultimate goal of any Work PreView Meeting is to decide what to do with the resources at hand given what the team knows now and what is has to work with. To do this, members present issues using an “OSIR Structure” — they begin with an Objective that involves measurable results; then a Status statement of future prognosis and expected variance; a short summary of the Issue causing the variance; and finally a specific Recommendation for a suggested action.

This format ensures that the “presentation” is over within about three minutes, leaving the majority of the group’s time for productive discussion about what action to take next in light of the new information.

3. Group Decision-Making.

Ideally, groups solving problems together are made up of only five to seven individuals. Larger groups can come together to approve or decline recommendations, but not to attempt to solve problems. Whether a group decision is happening in a large group or a small one, the process comes down to members teaching and the decider learning. When the focus is on understanding each other, rather than on obtaining agreement, information transfer is clearer and more complete.

Once the decider has learned all he or she can and made a decision, the team implements without failure or sabotage, even if they don’t personally agree. The team is always Iterating and no decision is “final,” but every decision must be fully implemented or else no learning can come from it.

4. Linked Teams.

Redefining how managers and their reports conceptualize their relationship to others in the organization means moving away from the notion of managing a group of individualsand instead running a team with a single charter. Everyone succeeds or fails based on whether the entire team succeeds or fails. This allows Iteration through proactive resource sharing, and it tears down silos as peers ask, encourage and even push each other to accept help. Managers are better off, and the organization is more successful, when peers on a team work to understand each other and make trade-offs in support of higher-level goals.

5. Front Line Self-Sufficiency.

The fundamental function of front line managers is to make individual employees as self-sufficient as possible at both delivering their output and at forecasting it. To do this, managers need to put in place clear goals that are defined in terms ofoutput, not task or process. Managers must also give front line employees ready access to the resources they need to do their jobs. Once front line employees know what they’re supposed to do and have what they need to do it, all that’s left to promote self-sufficiency is to make sure they’re keeping track of their own work — without management intervention. As individual contributors make accurate forecasts — promises – about their future output, trust improves between front line employees and managers, and better information flows up to higher levels of management, helping the organization as a whole to IterateSM.

 

Ed Muzio is CEO of Group Harmonics and an award-winning three-time author. An expert in the scientific study of measuring and modifying human behavior, he is a sought-after consultant to business and industry worldwide and a popular media source. His new book is “Iterate: Run a Fast, Flexible, Focused Management Team“.

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Change How You Talk To Others By Changing How You Talk To Yourself

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by Norma Forastiere

Are you shy? Socially anxious? Quiet around others and hesitant to speak up with your point of view? Statistics show that social inhibition is a widespread phenomenon, with 40-60% of all adults admitting to some form of ‘shyness’. Thankfully there is a simple way to increase your confidence and become more empowered in your communication.

“The most effective way to change the way you talk to others”, she remarks “is to change the way you talk to yourself.”

For the past 25 years, communication has been at the center of my life: I ran a translation service for more than two decades and currently facilitates mentoring workshops all over the world. Ironically, I’ve struggled with personal shyness for most of this time.

I was always a little shy but after a surgery, about 18 years ago, I was diagnosed with vocal paralysis. My ability to communicate was completely dismantled; my voice became erratic and I would make strange sounds when I spoke. I was unable to finish a sentence without my voice cracking, squeaking or disappearing. For years, I became desperately withdrawn and afraid to speak to anyone for fear of making a fool of myself.

After years of unsuccessful therapy, it was a simple tool that eventually empowered me in my personal communication and began to heal my vocal paralysis. I changed the thoughts I allow myself to have. I upgraded the way I talk to myself.

I’m now able to teach classes seven days a week, without any strain on my vocal chords. I find I’m constantly speaking authentically, from the heart, and I have the willingness to say whatever is important to me without hesitation. The more I speak up, the more I have a voice.

For those who would like to shrug off their shyness, here are the simple changes I made to my self-talk:

1. Stop ‘believing’ your thoughts.

Like most people, my inner-dialogue was incredibly negative and judgmental. So, one day, I changed the way I reacted to it. Whenever judgmental or fearful thoughts arose, I would say to myself ‘No, I won’t believe this.’ If I was afraid to talk to people, I would consciously make myself talk to those people. If I was hesitant to go somewhere, I would purposefully make myself go. I consciously chose not to believe my thoughts.

2. Replace unkind thoughts with kind thoughts.

I have become kinder to myself in my thoughts and my attitude. In the past, I would often say things in my mind like ‘That’s ridiculous. Everyone’s going to think you’re stupid if you say that’. I started catching those thoughts and consciously choosing kinder inner feedback. It was difficult at first, but over time I became really good at it. Now, the practice is so automatic I can barely remember what it was like being unkind to myself.

3. Praise yourself freely.

One of the most powerful changes I made was to become willing to recognize and accept myself for all that I am. If I have done something well, I am willing to receive praise and appreciation from others and, most importantly, from myself.

4. Trust your inner GPS.

Looking back now, I realize that a lot of my silence and shyness came about because I was secretly waiting for others to speak up; to tell me the answers and light the way forward. When I found my outer voice, I also found my inner, intuitive one. I don’t rely on anyone to tell me the answers now – I listen to myself: How do I feel about the situation? What do I know that I am willing to acknowledge? By listening to my inner GPS, I know I have the power within myself to speak and act authentically and create whatever I want to create in life.

By focusing on enhancing my self-talk, my communication abilities have flourished and continue to grow every day. By slowly, steadily working on the way I talk to myself, I learned I that I don’t give up; I will keep going, no matter what. This revelation has given me extra confidence. I have risen above my shyness and it holds no power over me anymore. Instead, I enjoy a complete ease in how, when and to whom l choose to communicate.

 

Norma Forastiere is a business mentor, natural therapist and certified facilitator of several Access Consciousness® special programs, including Right Voice for You, Joy of Business, Being You, and Access Bars®. Norma began practicing mediation at an early age and then went on to study metaphysics and several energy healing and natural therapy modalities. A native Portuguese speaker with a proficiency in English and Spanish, Norma offers workshops and consultations for those willing to explore greater possibilities in life, communication and business. Follow @RightVoiceForU.

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15 Great Websites for Women Business Owners

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Women business owners can achieve so much more when we support each other. If you’re a woman entrepreneur, check out these 15 websites for women business owners (besides AllBusiness’s Women In Business section, of course!) that can help you start or grow your business:

 

American Business Women’s Association

http://www.abwa.org
This organization for business and professional women (including both small business owners and corporate employees) provides opportunities for members to grow personally and professionally. The more than 450 chapters nationwide hold monthly networking meetings to share ideas and support. The AWBA also holds a National Women’s Leadership Conference annually.

Committee of 200

https://www.c200.org
C200 is an international organization for a select group of the most powerful women who own and run companies. Its C200 Foundation works to foster, celebrate and advance women’s leadership in business, and also provides targeted outreach and support to future leaders to with the goal of increasing the number of women in leadership roles.

Ellevate Network

https://www.ellevatenetwork.com/
Ellevate Network is a global organization enabling women in business to elevate each other. Members, including both professional women and women entrepreneurs, gain inspiration, education, and more.

ForbesWoman

https://www.forbes.com/forbeswoman
This spinoff of the Forbes website shares information, resources, and ideas to help professional and executive women succeed.

NAFE

https://www.nafe.com
The National Association for Female Executives (NAFE) provides education, networking, and public advocacy to help its members achieve financial security and business success. Members include women executives, business owners, entrepreneurs, and allies committed to the advancement of women in the workplace.

National Women’s Business Council

https://www.nwbc.gov
The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) is a nonpartisan federal advisory council that serves as an independent source of advice and policy recommendations to the President, Congress, and the U.S. Small Business Administration. The NWBC works to promote economic issues that matter to women business owners and encourage bold initiatives that support women-owned businesses throughout their journey, from startup to success.

NAWBO

https://www.nawbo.org
For more than 40 years, the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) has been working to help women business owners achieve economic, social, and political power. With 10 million-plus members NAWBO is one of the best-known organizations for women in business, offering a wide range of resources, opportunities, and events.

OWBO

https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/grow-your-business/women-owned-businesses
The SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO) manages a network of Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) across the U.S. and its territories. The WBCs provide management traiaing and technical assistance to help female entrepreneurs, especially those that are economically or socially disadvantaged, start and grow their own businesses.

Other Articles From AllBusiness.com:

  • The Complete 35-Step Guide for Entrepreneurs Starting a Business
  • 25 Frequently Asked Questions on Starting a Business
  • 50 Questions Angel Investors Will Ask Entrepreneurs
  • 17 Key Lessons for Entrepreneurs Starting A Business

SBA

https://www.sba.gov
Created in 1953, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is an independent agency of the federal government. Its goal is to assist and protect small businesses, strengthen the U.S. economy, and preserve the free enterprise system. The SBA has an extensive network of field offices as well as partnerships with public and private organizations to deliver its services.

SBDCs

https://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/sbdc
The Office of Small Business Development Centers gives both current and prospective small-business owners counseling, advice, and services, often for little or no cost. Small business owners can access these “one-stop shops” to get information, guidance, or education. Every state has at least one SBDC.

SCORE

https://www.score.org
SCORE is one of the best resources I know for any business owner. SCORE mentors are business experts who’ve been in the trenches of entrepreneurship. They can provide the business consulting and advice you need to get to the next level—and it’s free.

SmallBizDaily

https://www.smallbizdaily.com
Visit the Women in Business section of my company’s blog, SmallBizDaily, to find articles for, by, and about women entrepreneurs, plus resources to help you start and grow your business.

WBENC

http://www.wbenc.org
The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) is the nation’s biggest third-party certifier of businesses owned, controlled, and operated by women. WBENC partners with 14 Regional Partner Organizations to certify women-owned businesses throughout the country. The organization also provides members with networking and other opportunities to market to government and corporate clients that want to do business with women-owned companies.

Women Impacting Public Policy

https://www.wipp.org
Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) is a national, nonpartisan organization that advocates on behalf of women entrepreneurs. Its goal is to create economic opportunities for women and impact public policy. After surveying its members about their biggest concerns, WIPP relays these concerns to Congress. The group provides members with benefits such as advocacy training, assistance getting federal contracts, educational opportunities, and access to events.

WPO

https://www.womenpresidentsorg.com
The Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) is a nonprofit membership organization for women who are presidents of multimillion-dollar businesses. WPO members meet once a month to participate in advisory groups that help them grow their businesses, to take part in advisory groups, and grow their businesses to the next level.

(Disclosure: SCORE and the SBDC LA-area Network are clients of my company.)

RELATED: Getting Certified as a Woman-Owned Business

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Coinbase active users drop by 80%

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The number of active clients on the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has fallen by 80% since December 2017. This was concluded as a result of the research carried out by the venture firm Tribe Capital. Coinbase’s active customers dropped 80% during crypto price slump, study says https://t.co/OUI6rkCwOo pic.twitter.com/MCWxsqZBTL — Bloomberg Crypto (@crypto) October 11, 2018 The […]
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